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Mental Health Update

November 1, 2021
Mental Health Update

MH Update – 11/1/2021 New Appointments to Governor’s Office and State Commissioners

We congratulate our colleagues Kerri Neifeld and Jihoon Kim in their new positions. We have worked closely with both of them over the years and have great respect for their work. We look forward to continuing our strong relationships and ongoing dialogue around behavioral health….And reminding them about ‘opening the door’ to 5.4%

Governor Hochul Announces Administration Nominations and Appointments

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new administration nominations and appointments. “In New York, we are working toward a better, brighter future for generations to come — there is no doubt in my mind that these are the best people to bring on to our team with that goal in mind,” Governor Hochul said. “With diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging experience, this team brings invaluable knowledge to the table. New Yorkers can rest assured that these positions are filled with individuals who will fight for them and with their best interests at heart.”

Kerri Neifeld will be nominated as Commissioner, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Previously, Ms. Neifeld served as Assistant Secretary for Human Services & Mental Hygiene in the governor’s office and as Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance where she managed the newly-created Division of Shelter Oversight and Compliance. Before that, she worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner at OTDA while serving as an Excelsior Service Fellow. Prior to the Excelsior Service Fellowship Program, Ms. Neifeld was a Fellow on Women & Public Policy at Rockefeller College’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society. Ms. Neifeld has worked as a Project Manager at the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties, a Child Protective Services Caseworker at the Albany County Department of Child and Family Services and a Youth Care Worker at WAIT House Homeless Youth Shelter. Ms. Neifeld holds a B.A. from Elmira College and an M.S.W. from the University at Albany School of Social Welfare. Ms. Neifeld will serve as Acting Commissioner until confirmation by the Senate.

Nivardo Lopez has been appointed  Deputy Secretary for Transportation.  Most recently, Mr. Lopez served as Bronx Borough Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT). In that role, Mr. Lopez advised the Commissioner on all policy issues affecting transportation in the Bronx and worked with the various divisions within the agency to ensure effective service delivery in the Bronx. Mr. Lopez joined NYCDOT in 2014, as the Director of Legislative Affairs, responsible for developing the agency’s legislative agenda. During his tenure he helped to secure the passage of a local law increasing the yearly amount of Accessible Pedestrians Signal installation and on State legislation expanding the Bus Lane Camera Enforcement Program. Prior to working for NYCDOT, Mr. Lopez worked for Comptroller Scott Stringer as Director of City Legislative Affairs and also for the Bloomberg Administration as the Bronx Director for the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit. Mr. Lopez began his career in government working at the New York City Council, first for Bronx Councilman James Vacca and then as a Legislative Policy Analyst for the City Council’s Committee on Transportation. Mr. Lopez is a longtime resident and native of the Bronx. He holds a B.A. in History from Saint Joseph’s University and a M.A. in History from The City College of New York (CUNY).

Jihoon Kim, LMSW *has been appointed  Deputy Secretary for Human Services and Mental Hygiene. He most recently served as Special Assistant to the Executive Deputy Commissioner at the Office of Mental Health. Mr. Kim previously served in the Executive Chamber as Deputy Director of Policy where he was responsible for coordinating major policy initiatives and as a Senior Policy Advisor for Human Services and Mental Hygiene, where he was responsible for assisting with the oversight of eight State agencies. Prior to joining the Executive Chamber, Mr. Kim worked for the New York Attorney General as the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. He is a Licensed Master Social Worker and holds a Master of Social Work degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and a Bachelor in Science degree from Marist College.

Kate C. Harris has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Financial Services and Technology.  She previously served as Director of the Reimagine New York Commission working on the State’s recovery from the pandemic. Prior to that, Ms. Harris was minority counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which oversees the U.S. intelligence agencies and led a bipartisan investigation into foreign election interference. During the Obama Administration, Kate worked on domestic and international economic policy including access to credit for small businesses, smart financial regulation, consumer protection, global anti-corruption, and broadband technologies. She was a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department under Secretary John Kerry and worked on the Treasury Department’s financial crisis response under Secretary Tim Geithner. She also clerked for Judge Jose Cabranes on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was a Senior Fellow at Yale University. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received her J.D. from Yale Law School. She is a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, chair of the Brookings Society, and a leader of UNICEF NextGen.

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